City water, gas rates will rise in Nov.

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 11, 2003

[9/11/03]Water and gas rates in the city of Vicksburg will rise with November bills.

The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved the increases Wednesday. The hikes had been promised last week when board members approved the budget for next year. The new rates will take effect after 30 days.

Officials said the rate increase is needed to reduce subsidies from reserve accounts to fund water and gas.

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“It’s the responsible thing to do and it is the right thing to do,” said Mayor Laurence Leyens.

The new rates increase the cost of water by 25 percent, but do not affect the minimum bill of $5 for less than 2,000 gallons for residential customers. Industrial customers and residents with larger meters will also see a rate hike.

The last water rate increase was in March 2000. Officials then said the increase was needed to offset subsidies from general tax dollars.

The minimum bill for natural gas will go from $6.75 to $7.56 for less than 500 cubic feet. Rates per 1,000 cubic feet increase after the first 500 cubic feet.

The budget still calls for a subsidy to those funds even after the increase. Revenue in the water-operating fund is expected to be down next year because of the closing of Vicksburg Chemical plant, and natural gas rates are expected to continue increasing, said city strategic planner Paul Rogers.

The water fund will receive an injection of $814,890 from reserve accounts, and the gas fund will get $515,000. The reserve fund is at about $11 million today.

Rate increases are also needed to fund the $5.8 million bond issue approved last week. Funds from the sale of the bonds will be used for water and sewer improvements, building six new water wells and installation of electronic, radio meters that will cost $3 million.

Water and gas bills are included on monthly statements with sewer and garbage fees. In 2000, sewer rates also increased, but no change was made in that fee this year.

Last year, garbage rates also increased after the city entered a new contract with Waste Management for curbside collection. Officials are currently negotiating the details of an amendment to that contract, which will cost an additional $2.14 per month for each household.

Officials have said that cost will be paid out of the general fund and will not be passed on to residents.